This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 9, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening. Welcome to Washington. I'm Bret Baier. Breaking tonight, we are looking live at images from Houston, Texas, a horse drawn carriage carrying the casket of George Floyd, following the emotional four-hour funeral service.
Floyd's death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer captured in graphic video, of course, shocked much of the country and set in motion, a worldwide call for law enforcement reform. Senior correspondent Alicia Acuna starts us off tonight from Houston. Good evening, Alicia.
ALICIA ACUNA, FOX NEWS CHANNEL SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Bret. Today, mourners inside the Fountain of Praise Church and worldwide who watched online and on television, witness a ceremony filled with beautiful music, rage and remembrance all for a man whose death gave birth to a movement.
ACUNA: Two weeks after his death in police custody, sparked a movement against racial injustice, calls for changes in policing and protests worldwide, George Floyd was laid to rest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This will be a homegoing celebration.
ACUNA: Floyd's funeral at the Fountain of Praise Church in his hometown of Houston, kept six days of mourning, after services in Minneapolis in North Carolina. Religious leaders remembered the 46-year-old father and said his death would not be in vain.
IVY MCGREGOR, MEMBER, THE FOUNTAIN OF PRAISE CHURCH: I leave with you one word, his final word which was breathe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God is --
ACUNA: Attendance was limited to 500 people and included family members of other African Americans killed by police, including Breanna Taylor, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, as well as politicians who vowed change.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): There will be no more 8 minutes and 46 seconds of injustice and the mistreatment of African American men.
SYLVESTER TURNER, MAYOR OF HOUSTON: What that order will say is that in this city, we will ban chokeholds and strangleholds.
ACUNA: As the Floyd family thanked all those who came to support them, they reiterated their calls for justice.
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I want justice for my brother. Everybody going to remember him around the world. He is going to change the world.
ACUNA: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden met with Floyd's family on Monday and provided a video message for the service.
JOE BIDEN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, UNITED STATES: We cannot leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away from racism that stings at our very soul.
ACUNA: Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton gave the eulogy.
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: George was just George. And now you have to understand If your father any one of us, it's a value to all of us.
ACUNA: Houston's mayor declared this George Floyd Day and asked who would have thought that his name would now be mentioned in places like Nairobi, South Korea, South Africa, Canada and Europe. Bret?
BAIER: Alicia Acuna live in Houston. Alicia, thanks. President Trump continues to fight the backlash against law enforcement and the call for defunding or dismantling police departments. He also is suggesting via Twitter that an elderly man shoved down by police in Buffalo, may have been a member of the radical Antifa group. That tweet had lawmakers on both sides of the aisle responding today.
In just a moment, part two of my interview yesterday with Attorney General William Barr from the Justice Department. But first, tonight, the President and his administration will be announcing some proposals soon. Chief White House correspondent John Roberts has that story.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump and Senate Republicans will soon put forward proposals for possible police reform potentially later this week. Sources say the reforms would be a combination of executive and legislative action. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Jared Kushner and domestic policy adviser Ja'Ron Smith were up on Capitol Hill today, meeting South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who's running point on the legislative piece.
MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Senator Scott was giving us some real good input. And so, we're hopeful that we can address the issue in a real way.
ROBERTS: The recommendations could encompass some of what democrats had been floating this week, though FOX News is told the crossover would likely be minimal.
MEADOWS: We're letting the stakeholders establish the priorities. And hopefully, we can be responsive with real legislation or action. We want to let our actions speak louder than our words.
ROBERTS: The growing movement to defund the police has now become a hot election year issue. The President and Republican staking out their position.
RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: This is something that I think is going to be an issue heading into the election especially with people like AOC and Rashida Tlaib, who are advising Joe Biden, talking about defunding the police and also abolishing ICE.
ROBERTS: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib have advocated taking money from police budgets to fund alternative programs. But the former Vice President and presumed Democratic nominee has made it clear he does not share their philosophy.
BIDEN: No. I don't support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police, based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness. And, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.
ROBERTS: But even as he tries to claim the high ground in the debate, President Trump has again invited controversy with a conspiratorial tweet about this incident in Buffalo, where a 75-year-old protester was pushed to the ground by police, hitting his head, then left bleeding on the sidewalk. The President tweeting, Buffalo protesters shoved by police could be an Antifa provocateur.
75-year-old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. I watched. He fell harder than he was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?
The two officers involved have been charged with assault. New York's democratic governor renewing his long-running feud with President Trump over the tweet.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I mean, if there was ever a reprehensible dumb comment, and from the President of the United States, at this moment of anger, anguish, and anger. What does he do? Pours gasoline on the fire.
ROBERTS: While Congress works on legislation, President Trump will work with the Department of Justice on what executive action might be taken to implement and institute police reforms. The President meantime, is going to take this on the road when he re-ups his campaign sometime in the next couple of weeks or so. The White House saying that the President's priority is to protect communities while at the same time, not tying the hands of police. Bret?
BAIER: John Roberts live in the north lawn. John, thank you. Now, for the second half of my interview with Attorney General William Barr. We begin this evening from the courtyard of the Department of Justice, by continuing the conversation about the organized elements of some of the rioting and looting. Barr singled out Antifa yesterday but also said authorities are seeing a quote witch's brew of extremist groups.
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: We have, you know, conservative, extreme right groups trying to look like extreme left groups. We have extreme left groups masquerading as extreme right groups. We have players on both sides trying to spin up violence. So, it's a -- it's a complicated situation.
BAIER: But you expect that there'll be more arrests at the organizing part of it.
BARR: I can't put a time limit on these investigations. But I think you know, we are very much focused on getting on top of these groups.
BAIER: Turning the page here to the Durham report, and wondering when that is going to come out. You're now a few months away from an election and there's some expectation that there's going to be at least some bombshells in there about the investigation of the investigation into Trump collusion.
BARR: Well, I, you know, I can address expectations, I can say that even with the disruption of COVID. And the fact that our court system has essentially been shut down for a few months, the Durham team has been working very aggressively to move forward. And as I've also said, this isn't being driven by producing a report. We are trying to get to a point where we can hold accountable anyone who crossed the line and committed a criminal violation.
So, that's, I think what you know, would be the initial stage of a resolution of Durham's investigation, but I also think that there will be public disclosure in some form of reports at the appropriate time.
BAIER: From what you've seen, crimes have been committed?
BARR: Well, I can't -- I can't say, you know.
BAIER: Well, can you paint a picture of what it looks like as far as broad nature of it?
BARR: Well, I think, you know, I think before the election, I think we're concerned about the motive force behind the very aggressive investigation that was launched into the Trump campaign without, you know, with a very thin, slender read as a basis for it. It seems that the Bureau's sort of spring loaded at the end of July to drive in there and investigate a campaign.
And they -- there really wasn't much there to do that on and that became more and more evident as they went by, but they seem to have ignored all this exculpatory evidence that was building up and continued pell mell to push it forward, so that's one area of concern.
The other area of concern is that after the election, even though they were closing down, some of that, as we've seen in the Flynn case and say there's nothing here, for some reason, they went right back at it, even at a time where the evidentiary support or claim support like the dossier, was falling apart.
And it's very hard to understand why they continued to push and even make public in testimony that they had an investigation going when it was becoming painfully obvious or should have been obvious to anyone that there was nothing there.
BAIER: You always get lumped in with being political and you've pushed back against that, that characterization that you're the President's attorney. But as you get closer to an election, doesn't releasing this report and making it more at risk for falling into that political bucket?
BARR: I'm sure there are people who might say that. I've publicly made clear that this is not involve looking at President Obama or Vice President Biden. I think the people that we're looking at are not at that level, and I think --
BAIER: What names we would be familiar with?
BARR: Some of them. But, you know, here's the thing, for the first time in American history, police organizations and the National Security organizations were used to spy on a campaign. And there was no basis for it. And the media largely drove that and all kinds of sensational claims were being made about the President that could have affected the election.
And then later on in his administration, there were actions taken that really appear to be efforts to sabotage his campaign. And that has to be looked at. And if people want to say that I'm political because I am looking at those potential abuses of power, so be it. But that's the job of the attorney general.
BAIER: If you had to characterize the Durham report, as you know it now, is it going to be eye opening for Americans or is this can be kind of a blip on the -- on the road to --
BARR: I am -- you know, I'm very troubled by what has been called to my attention so far, but I'm not going to characterize it beyond that.
BAIER: Can you tell us anything about the investigation to unmasking?
BARR: You know, unmasking is not by itself illegal. But the patterns of unmasking can tell us something about people's motivations at any given point of time. So, we're trying to take a look at the whole waterfront on unmasking what was done, especially in 2016.
BAIER: And is there criminal implications there?
BARR: As I say, it's not -- it's not against the law to unmask anyone. But I mean, for example, let's say suppose for a period in the spring, there was a lot of heavy unmasking done on people involved with the Trump campaign, that would be very relevant as to what people were thinking at that time and what their motivations were.
BAIER: You mentioned the Flynn case, you're in the process of trying to dismiss that charge -- the charges, yet the judge, Sullivan, continues on and has now a shadow prosecutor and making a case that it should continue.
BARR: The argument is that it's always been understood that decisions whether pursue that individual through the prosecution process or holding them criminally accountable, is vested in the executive branch and not the courts. And he is essentially, in our view, trying to set himself up as an alternative prosecutor.
BAIER: And so, have you seen anything like this before?
BARR: I'm not aware of anything like this before. And I think that's why this is not being argued at the appellate stage in the District of Columbia.
BAIER: I know you can't get into specifics, but the DOJ inspector general identified this top FBI lawyer who fabricated evidence in order to justify this warrant against Carter Page to spy on him. We know that's a crime yet there haven't been any charges yet. Is that person still working at the FBI?
BAIER: And are there charges?
BARR: Well, you know, we can't discuss, you know, future charges. But I have to say that I do find a little irritating, you know, the propensity in the American public on all sides of the political spectrum and they see something they think could be a criminal violation and say why hasn't this person been indicted yet, why hasn't this person -- why?
And you know, there's the old saying that that the wheels of justice grind slow, and they do grind slow because we have due process and we follow the process, but people should not draw from the fact that no action has been taken that -- taken yet. That that means that people are -- people are going to get away with wrongdoing.
BAIER: The President is counting on you and your department to crack down on social media platforms for what he calls censorship, including his own tweets. You said, the law allows these companies to operate and it's been stretched beyond its original intent. So, you think these firms are somehow censoring the President and his supporters?
BARR: Well, I think there are clearly these entities are now engaged in censorship. And they originally held themselves out as open forum where people could third parties could come and express their views. And they built up a tremendous network of eyeballs.
They -- a lot of market power based on that present -- presentation. And now they are acting much more like publishers because they're censoring particular viewpoints and putting their own content in there to the -- to diminish the impact of various people's views.
BAIER: So, is there some action that you're taking?
BARR: Well, we are looking, as many others are, at changing section 230, which is a rule that provides some protection for these companies.
BAIER: Which would require Congress.
BARR: Which would require Congress. Yes.
BAIER: Prisoner swaps with Iran have required the Justice Department to drop charges or agree to time served for defendants in federal courts. Is this a good policy when Iran arrest people for just being American?
BARR: Well, it's a policy that, you know, has to be handled with care that we don't invite, you know, seizing and more Americans. But in the individual cases where we've done this, we felt the benefit outweigh the risk.
BAIER: So, it was worth it?
BAIER: More to come?
BARR: I can't say.
BAIER: What is it like working with President Trump in the middle of these crises? It's two in a row now. And you've been meeting with him a lot.
BARR: It's good because I think the President's a very decisive person and he's interested in hearing all the views. There's a lot of robust discussion. And he makes a decision, and I think he's been a good leader.
BAIER: If the President is reelected, would you serve in a second term?
BARR: I'm not going to get into that.
BAIER: You're not? But if he asked you, would you?
BARR: That would be presumptuous of me to discuss that.
BAIER: Our thanks the Attorney General and his staff. Stocks today mixed, the Dow snapped a six-day winning streak by losing 300. The S&P 500 fell 25. The NASDAQ eclipsed 10,000-point barrier for the first time, finished ahead, 29.
Up next, renewed fears, Iran could have a breakout in its nuclear weapons program in six months. What the U.S. can and cannot do about that. We'll bring it that story. First, here's what some of our FOX affiliates around the country are covering tonight.
FOX 9 in Boise, Idaho where investigators say they have recovered what are believed to be human remains after searching the home of a man suspected in the disappearance of his new wife's children. Police say Chad Daybell and his wife lied to them about the children's whereabouts. Daybill has been taken into custody but has not yet been charged.
Fox 35 in Richmond, as a judge issues an injunction preventing Virginia from removing the iconic statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee for the next 10 days. Democrat governor Ralph Northam ordered the monument taken down last week. The temporary injunction order says the state is a party to a deed recorded in March of 1890, in which it agreed to quote faithfully guard and affectionately protect the structure.
And this is a live look at Orlando. Are affiliate FOX 35 down there, one of the big stores there tonight. NASCAR says it will allow a limited number of fans that upcoming races in Florida and Alabama. One thousand Florida service members will attend Sunday's event in Miami. Five thousand guests will be allowed at Talladega Superspeedway, June 21st.
NASCAR says all fans will be screened before entering, requiring to wear face coverings and told to maintain the six feet social distance. Those races will be broadcast on the Big FOX. That's tonight's live look outside the Beltway from SPECIAL REPORT. We'll be right back.
BAIER: New U.S. sanctions on Iran's shipping network are in effect tonight. The penalties were announced in December. They come as there are new and serious concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons capability. Correspondent Trey Yingst reports tonight from Tel Aviv.
TREY YINGST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Iran is months away from having the material needed for a nuclear weapon. The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog says the country continues to enrich and stockpile uranium at limits in violation of the 2015 nuclear agreement. The E.U.'s top diplomat made clear today that the U.S., after pulling out of the deal in 2018, no longer has a seat at the negotiating table.
JOSEP BORRELL FONTELLES, CHIEF, EUROPEAN UNION FOREIGN POLICY: Now they cannot claim that they are still part of the JCPOA in order to deal with this issue from the JCPOA agreement. They withdraw. It's clear. They withdraw.
YINGST: The U.S. disagrees, arguing Mr. Borrell ignores the plain language of the U.N. Security Council resolution that allows the United States to snapback sanctions despite more than 1,000 sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Some experts say President Trump's maximum pressure campaign isn't working.
RAZ ZIMMT, RESEARCH FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES: Now, if we look at Iran's policy over the last year, you could definitely see that not only the sanctions have not resulted in a more moderate uranium policy, Iran has actually become even more radical.
YINGST: With continued Iranian nuclear development, the clock is ticking for the U.S. and its allies to find a solution. The nuclear analysts you heard from there, says that Israel will soon face a dilemma between bombing Iran and allowing Iran to have a nuclear bomb. Bret?
BAIER: Trey Yingst in Tel Aviv. Trey, thanks. Up next, the effort to cut law enforcement budgets or dismantle entire police departments in the wake of the George Floyd killing.
First, beyond our borders tonight, hundreds of people marched in Hong Kong streets to mark a year since the start of antigovernment protests there. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says the city cannot bear chaos and that both the government and the people need to learn their lesson. She did not elaborate on what that might be.
Pakistani police say at least 13 people are dead after a building collapsed in the southern port city of Karachi, where crews have been finding bodies as they carefully remove debris. Most of the apartments were empty because the building was recently declared unsafe and order vacated.
Spain's Balearic Islands will allow thousands of German tourists to fly in for a two-week trial that tests how to balance the needs of Spain's vital tourism industry with new regulations to curb the country's coronavirus outbreak. That trial begins June 15th comes before the islands and the rest of the country reopen to international tourism, July 1st. Just some of the other stories beyond our borders tonight. We'll be right back.
BAIER: Some of the lasting fallout from the George Floyd killing may be in the way police conduct their business. There is a serious backlash against law enforcement with threats to make severe cutbacks in some departments, dismantle others. The epicenter of that movement is the city in which Floyd died, Minneapolis. Senior correspondent Mike Tobin is there tonight.
MIKE TOBIN, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: A New York City police officer is charged with assault after knocking down this protester in Brooklyn, as conflicts with police protesters in the public continue calls to defund even disband police departments grow across the nation. Violence continues in America's cities. Seven people shot in Brooklyn Monday night in the space of 10 minutes. Over the weekend, 5 people killed, 31 wounded in Chicago.
A Minnesota judge approved reforms proposed by the Minneapolis City Council that ban chokeholds and neck restraints. The reforms require officers to intervene and report excessive force. It is not enough for 9 of the 13 members of the Minneapolis City Council who want to do away with the police force all together. The mayor supports only reform.
JACOB FREY, MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS: I'm not for abolition of the police department. What I know is that we need massive transformational change.
TOBIN: San Diego taking a different approach, with the City Council voting to increase their police department's budget by $27 million. The conflicts continue. Police shot a man in --
MIKE TOBIN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: San Diego taking a different approach with the city council voting to increase their police department's budget by $27 million.
The conflicts continue. Police shot a man in Springfield, Missouri, today after he crushed an officer against a barricade with his SUV. And in California, an Air Force sergeant will be arraigned Friday after killing Santa Cruz County Sheriff Search Damon Gutzwiller.
JEFFREY ROSELL, SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I can assure you this person will be brought to justice.
TOBIN: The first of the alleged rioters from Minneapolis was in federal court today. Brandon Michael Wolfe was charged with aiding and abetting arson. According to a criminal complaint he threw debris on the fire after eluding police from the Third Precinct the night it was overrun by the mob. Bret, back to you.
BAIER: Mike Tobin in Minneapolis. Mike, thanks.
The U.S. Air Force will soon have a new leader, soon-to-be Chief of Staff General Charles Brown will be the first African-American to lead a U.S. military branch. He was confirmed by the Senate this afternoon with a vote of 98 to zero. Vice President Mike Pence described this move as historic.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley are voicing their support for the concept of changing the names of Army bases named for Confederate generals. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy says he is open to the idea but will not make the change unilaterally. He says he hopes to get bipartisan support in Congress.
Also tonight, the chief of naval operations has told his staff to begin crafting an order that would prohibit display of Confederate battle flag on Navy ships, aircraft, and submarines.
In tonight's Democracy 2020 report, this Election Day, this is Election Day, rather, in a handful of states. One of them is Georgia. Correspondent Peter Doocy tells us things are not going smoothly there, and that is causing concern already about the general election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Many people who voted in Georgia's primary today had a really hard time.
KAREN WEBB-ALLEN, ATLANTA RESIDENT: We got notifications that the machines were not working, and that they were going to try to rectify the situation. Then we waited another couple hours after that.
DOOCY: Georgia's primary was postponed twice until today amid concerns about COVID-19 that apparently haven't been addressed everywhere.
STACI FOX, ATLANTA RESIDENT: There's nobody giving anybody directions. There's not enough space for people to respect social distancing. Not all the staff have masks on, it really is a mess. And the secretary of state had months to prepare for this.
DOOCY: The Georgia secretary of state, a Republican, says he is investigating problems, but Kamala Harris is already ruling, "Voting machines down, limited provisional ballots, hours long lines. Voter suppression is happening right now across Georgia, particularly in black communities." And black communities have been front and center in Joe Biden's campaign for president in the two weeks since George Floyd died in police custody.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When there is justice for George Floyd, we will be truly on our way to racial justice in America.
DOOCY: Progressives pushing change have been encouraging people to plan on requesting absentee ballots to avoid long lines and keep clear of coronavirus from home.
REP. ALEXANDRA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Vote while your kids are yelling. Vote while you're homeschooling. Vote while you're having breakfast. Vote without your pants on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY: But that could mean the winner of Trump v Biden could take days to determine because Pennsylvania got a lot more mail-in ballots than usual in their primary, and a week later, some close races are still undecided because officials are still counting. Bret?
BAIER: All right, Peter, thank you. You can hear more from Peter Doocy and a distinguished panel on my podcast, "The Campaign." It comes out every Tuesday, 5:00 p.m. eastern time. You can download it on https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__FOXNewsPodcast.com&d=DwICAg&c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&r=tgDLkJy54PfJyWJwul3dKe54qGxqO7b7d5vjo7RcZds&m=bA_42GNI_ba8IRcyltJ_Xyt1vYN3fjvBoF-Bz783mwA&s=MBnBoNPaG4HoSXCQ4b7rlHpcVy26sTcm-f_u_iPzr98&e= or wherever you download podcasts. Check it out. Out right now.
The fight to maintain liberty in the era of the coronavirus, that is next.
BAIER: Tonight, the World Health Organization is walking back a statement made Monday that the spread of the coronavirus by people who show no symptoms is very rare. The official who made the comment says they were based on two or three studies and not WHO policy. She added symptomatic transmission remains an open question.
The organization also says that global outlook is worsening with a record 136,000 confirmed new cases Sunday. And presidential adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci tells "The New York Times" the pandemic is far from over. Additional infections are being reported in the U.S. as many locations ease lockdown restrictions. Texas is reporting a record number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
On the economic front, U.S. business bankruptcies rose 48 percent last month from May of 2019, and a research firm says as many as 25,000 stores in this country could close permanently because of the outbreak.
Tonight, we began a four-part series looking at COVID-19 and the extent of the government's reach and responsibility. The ongoing pandemic has scrambled the politics and policies on across a range of fundamental rights. This evening, our chief legal correspondent and "FOX News at Night" host Shannon Bream looks at the court challenges involving individual Americans and their elected leaders.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am officially declaring a national emergency.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: More than three months after the Trump administration ramped up its response to the coronavirus, many cities and states across the nation are just beginning to open up following weeks of an economic and social shutdown that had Americans across the ideological divide increasingly voicing frustration with isolation orders shuttering businesses, parks, schools, and churches.
BOB JACKSON, ACTS FULL GOSPEL CHURCH PASTOR: We want to keep our parishioners safe, and I believe that with all my heart, but at the same time, my goodness, the restrictions are so tough.
BREAM: Every state governor has imposed varying evolving restrictions, guided by federal health safeguards. But a FOX News survey found legal challenges in every state.
LATA NOTT, FREEDOM FORUM FIRST AMENDMENT CENTER: At this point we've seen courts weigh whether certain stay-at-home orders and dissembling orders are constitutional, and they have been mostly deferential towards the state.
BREAM: Many lawsuits concern discrepancies over what qualifies as an essential service. Abortion clinics and gun shops shuttered, while pot dispensaries remain open and thousands of nonviolent criminals are freed from prison. Other lawsuits concerning privacy rights, the government monitoring cell phone use, minus personal data, to track the spread of the virus.
DAVID FRENCH, "DIVIDED WE FALL" AUTHOR: We've got a lot of free speech and free exercise concerns, First Amendment concerns, that are raised in a pandemic, where the power of the state seems to be and often is at its apex.
BREAM: When it comes to free speech, Newark, New Jersey, officials threaten to use the state's public alarm laws to prosecute those spreading false reporting on COVID-19 through social media. In freedom of assembly, the challenge to New Hampshire's prohibition of gatherings of 50 people or more, and in free exercise of religion, 1,200 pastors in California vowing to defy restrictions.
Some also see a double standard over the recent protests over the death of George Floyd, bringing thousands of people together in close proximity.
MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Many Americans feel they've just seen those fastidious regulations and that puritanical zeal disappear in an instant because a new cause has emerged that powerful people agree with.
BREAM: But that highlights a longstanding federalism conflict -- local jurisdictions resisting mandates from Washington. In the past few weeks, Supreme Court justices have gotten emergency appeals on closed churches in Illinois and California, prison safety from Texas, absentee ballots from Wisconsin, and stay-at-home orders from Pennsylvania.
NOTT: We should always keep in mind that history shows that governments often use crises to deny people civil liberties on a longer-term basis, and that's something that we should be vigilant about.
BREAM: In 1905 the Supreme Court ruled against a man who refused a compulsory vaccination during a smallpox outbreak. This time around, the worst of the pandemic may be over before the justices weigh in on these constitutional issues. Bret?
BAIER: Shannon, thank you. See you tonight at 11:00.
President Trump fights against defunding or abolishing police departments, plus, reaction to part two of my interview with the attorney general. The panel joins me when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Until the law is upheld and people know they will go to jail, they're going to keep doing this because they are protected by wickedness in high places.
SHELBY STEELE, HOOVER INSTITUTION: We as black Americans have to begin to take our fate back into our own hands, and move it, to stop crying racism. There's a little racism out here, always was and always will be. Why is that an argument to stop, to not move forward?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Reverend Al Sharpton today at George Floyd's funeral, and Shelby Steele from our interview on Friday.
Meantime, as there are efforts to defund police departments, dismantle them, also reform in police now really the catchword, the New York Police Benevolent Association, the president of that group weighed in today as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL O'MEARA, NEW YORK STATE ASSOCIATION OF PBAS: Stop treating us like animals and thugs and start treating us with some respect. That's what we're here today to say. We've been left out of the conversation. We've been vilified. It's disgusting. It's disgusting. Trying to make us embarrassed of our profession.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: With that, let's bring in our panel, Charles Lane, opinion writer for "The Washington Post," Katie Pavlich is news editor at https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__Townhall.com&d=DwICAg&c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&r=tgDLkJy54PfJyWJwul3dKe54qGxqO7b7d5vjo7RcZds&m=bA_42GNI_ba8IRcyltJ_Xyt1vYN3fjvBoF-Bz783mwA&s=3NypCbmnJr0KvTdtJVuumeAckbTwweuBOPeUWEQ_lB4&e= , and Ben Domenech is publisher of "The Federalist."
Katie, let's start there with the Police Benevolent Association. He says they've been left out of the conversation, and for the most part, in different parts around the country, they have.
KATIE PAVLICH, NEWS EDITOR, https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__TOWNHALL.COM&d=DwICAg&c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&r=tgDLkJy54PfJyWJwul3dKe54qGxqO7b7d5vjo7RcZds&m=bA_42GNI_ba8IRcyltJ_Xyt1vYN3fjvBoF-Bz783mwA&s=g04kXs777JErz0pX-7rmEmemLzOvY2I-lIum4o56urE&e= : Yes, that is true, and there is definitely a frustration among police officers all over the country that they are being painted in the same light as the officer who killed George Floyd. They believe that they shouldn't be stereotyped or painted with the same broad brush. And they believe that they need the tools that they currently have to take care of crime on the streets.
The LAPD just an hour before your show, Bret, released numbers from last week. The homicide rate was up 250 percent since last week, and the number of people shot is up by 50 percent. And so when you're talking about this wider defund the police movement, there are consequences to this.
And police are human beings. Of course, they make mistakes. But this idea that we are now talking about police officers all in the same vein as the one who is in the situation with George Floyd is very unfair and not the way that we usually conduct business in America. You're an individual. You're not judged by all your associations. But also the White House has done a pretty decent job of trying to bring law enforcement, especially black law enforcement officers, into this conversation as they start to develop new policies and legislation with Capitol Hill.
BAIER: Chuck, the defund police, you can see the backtracking from some Democrats when talking about it, saying it's really not defund. It's reform. The Biden campaign leading with that statement, and then Joe Biden talking about it. Take a listen to the RNC chair and the former vice president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONNA MCDANIEL, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN: You are seeing this defund the police movement continue. This is something that I think is going to be an issue heading into the election, especially with people like AOC and Rashida Tlaib who are advising Joe Biden, talking about defunding the police, and also abolishing ICE. I don't think this is going away anytime soon.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness and in fact are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So when you're explaining "defund," are you on a political positive note?
CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, "WASHINGTON POST": I think Democrats are very nervous about being saddled with extremes of defund the police that might help President Trump, who is in disastrous political shape right now recover politically.
But I actually find what's striking about this that, if you had asked anyone eight weeks ago, do you think the election or any part of it would turn on your policy about defunding the police, we never would've guessed. It's just another indication of how quickly revolutionized the political debate has become in the last couple weeks, and that the public image of the police was extremely positive, and had actually been especially positive during coronavirus because they were praised as first responders, has suddenly taken a U-turn, and majorities of whites are now saying that police treat African-Americans unfairly.
So I actually think what's really remarkable about this is that we are having this discussion at all, and it's a sign of how volatile public opinion has become. And I wouldn't be sure that when it's all over, a law- and-order stance by President Trump will prevail.
BAIER: What you think about that, Ben?
BEN DOMENECH, "THE FEDERALIST": I think Chuck is right when he uses the word "volatile." We're in an incredible moment, and I think that we can't really predict based on that what we are going to see five months from now. Five months ago the president was giving his State of the Union address coming off some enormous success. He looked basically politically unstoppable. But now he's headed into the fall in the midst of what I think amounts to essentially a cultural civil war, something that clashes over the issues of race, issues of law and order.
And I think that in the clips that you just played there, the president clearly wants to be on the side of those frustrated cops in the community. I think he is trying very much to turn this into a situation where Joe Biden, who might not get the backing of any kind of police entity for the first time really in his political career, is forced into a box where he has to appeal to the far left on issues like defunding the police, which, whatever you mean by it, sounds pretty scary to most Americans.
BAIER: Politically there are a lot of Republicans up on Capitol Hill, I think, scratching their head, Katie, on the day of George Floyd's funeral for the president to be tweeting about this "Buffalo protester shoved by police, could be an Antifa provocateur, 75-year-old pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN, I watched, he fell harder than he was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?" Republicans were forced to answer questions about that today, and a lot of them shaking their heads about where this conspiracy theory is coming from.
PAVLICH: Yes, the local reporting does not say that this man was part of Antifa. They do say that he was a provocateur, that he is part of a protest group, has been arrested four times. The officers who were involved in that situation have been charged with assault. You had dozens of them resign as a result of them feeling like they were coming down too hard on officers who were simply enforcing a curfew against protestors who were breaking the curfew and taunting police.
In terms of what President Trump said, he was watching a report, and he thought that it would be prudent to tweet about it. But the local reporting on it does not show that what was said is accurate.
BAIER: OK, I want to turn now. We asked obviously the attorney general all about the policing and the situation Monday, and all kinds of things in the first part of the interview. The second part today dealt with, among other things, the Durham report, expected to come out in coming weeks. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: After the election, even though they were closing down, some of it, as we've seen in the Flynn case, and saying there's nothing here, for some reason they went right back at it, even at a time where the evidentiary support, or claimed support, like the dossier, was falling apart. And it's very hard to understand why they continued to push and even make public in testimony that they had an investigation going when it was becoming painfully obvious, or should have been obvious to anyone, that there was nothing there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: It sound like there's a grand jury that may have been impaneled, that is, had that little pause because of COVID-19. It sounds like there are some things happening fairly soon.
DOMENECH: I think Bill Barr is sending the message that he is not going to give this up, he's not going to let it just go away. So many people in Washington would like to move on from what happened. They would like to pretend that it never did. He's not going to allow that to happen.
BAIER: All right, panel, as always, thank you.
When we come back, the brighter side of things, some good news.
BAIER: Finally tonight, some heartwarming moments. Frontline coronavirus worker Suzanne Vaughan reunited with her two daughters after spending nine weeks working at hospital intensive care unit in Virginia. Vaughan snuck up on her girls before embracing them with hugs and tears. Two months is a long time for mom to be away.
Aiden Kelley liked his neighbor's idea to draw hearts along the Chicago area neighborhood sidewalks, so the nine-year-old covered those sidewalks colorful chalk, stood outside by himself with signs of hope and friendship. There you go, doing something.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for the SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and unafraid. "THE STORY" hosted by Martha MacCallum starts right now.
And Martha, did you know that Chris Wallace has a new book coming out?
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I have heard that. I have heard that. I think it's going to be a great Father's Day Gift.
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